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AHGS Wins Statewide Awards at 2013 NCSH Banquet

The North Carolina Society of Historians awarded several honors to the Alleghany Historical – Genealogical Society, Saturday, October 19 at its annual Awards Banquet in Mooresville, North Carolina.

AHGS won a Joe M. McLauren Newsletter Award for our quarterly newsletter and a Paul Green Multi Media Award for our program: Alleghany Memories- five episodes that featured Jeanette Anders, Pauline Meals,  Walter Bell, the New Haven Quilters and the History of Alleghany Cares.

Alleghany Memories won an additional Paul Green Award for four episodes produced in collaboration with the  Marine Corps League, Walter Frank Osborne, Jr. Detachment 1298, that featured local USMC veterans, Bobby Irwin, J.T. Pardue, Bill Sebastion and Charles Pugh.

Alleghany Memories is available for viewing any time at

Of 81 eligible nominations, 22 projects were awarded Paul Green Awards and of 20 eligible nominations, 7 won Joe M. McLauren newsletter awards.

Thank you to the NCSH, its Board and the Judges for these honors!


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A Tribute to President Kennedy

A Tribute to President Kennedy was written in 1963 by J.D. Higgins, Jr. to memorialize the fallen President and featured J.D. Higgins (Vocal), James Billings (Guitar), C. Ray Billings (Auto Harp), Paul Wooten (Bass).

This is just one of the items that were on display in the Alleghany Historical Museum for the exhibit on Mountain Music called These Hills are Alive with Music. If you have items that illustrate our common heritage, consider loaning them to the museum. More participation means more diversity, more education and more fun! The upcoming exhibit will be called Mountain Manufacturing: A History of Big Business in the Blue Ridge and will feature the factories that once operated in our area and will last through February of 2014. If you have items that you think would be appropriate,  bring them for display!

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Visit from Heather South of the Western Regional Archives in Asheville

Heather South at the WRA Opening

At right- Western Regional Archivist, Heather South (center) with Government Records Section Head, Becky McGee-Lankford (left) and State Archivist Sarah Koonts (right) at the opening of the Western Regional Archives.

If you missed the July meeting of AHGS, you missed a doozy. Heather South of the Western Regional Archives spoke about her job and the importance of proper storage and archiving techniques. Sounds dry as dust, right?

Absolutely the opposite. Heather is an enthusiastic (and fun!) speaker who gives technical information in a way even I can understand it. She says- as she holds up a giant 10″ bug- “People remember more with visuals. You’ll more easily remember what I say about pest prevention when you remember the lady with the bug.” When talking about the proper handling of documents or museum artifacts she wears a huge pair of Mickey Mouse gloves.

But, don’t let the silliness fool you. She gave us tons of practical information in her presentation. Like: People store things in boxes everywhere, in barns, basements and storage units. And tiny bugs love to make nests inside the corrugated cardboard of the boxes! So, as a rule, she isolates donations and re-boxes everything into clean, new cartons for storage at the archives.

And: Get your photos out of those magic magnetic photo albums (with the clear plastic sheet over the adhesive cardboard.) They aren’t acid-free and will slowly kill your photos instead of preserving them. Smell a photo album before you buy it for a “plastic-y” odor. If it has that beach ball smell, don’t buy it. The smell means the plastic is giving off gasses that will react with your photos. Heather claims she is “on security camera tapes all over the Carolinas smelling photo albums.”

And: Manilla folders and standard copy paper are generally “neutral” and therefore, safe for storing prints and documents.

We originally met Heather at a Museums in Partnership (MIP) meeting in Ashe County hosted by Ramona Renfroe and the Museum of Ashe County History. MIP is the brain child of Jill Jones, who was Director of the Swannanoa Valley Museum for ten years and is now Director of Marketing & Communications at Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. MIP has been a valuable resource for us, giving us access to a network of area museum professionals for information and advice. Thanks, Ramona and Jill for inviting AHGS to the group!

And THANKS HEATHER, for a fun and informative presentation. Please plan to come back to Alleghany soon!

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The Biblical Recorder Archive at Z. Smith Reynolds Library

In our work on geneology, we’ve recently found another great resource at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library of Wake Forest University. The Biblical Recorder (or most of it) is now online and accessible to researchers.

According to their site, “The Biblical Recorder is the official journal of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. Currently published biweekly, it has been in existence since 1833, when it was founded by Thomas Meredith, a Baptist pastor in New Bern, North Carolina. The Z. Smith Reynolds Library’s North Carolina Baptist Historical Collection is the official repository for North Carolina Baptist churches and institutions. We hold one of the most complete runs of The Biblical Recorder, and it is the most heavily used collection in the archives.”

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Driving Through Time – A Great, New Resource from UNC Chapel Hill

Driving Through Time – The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway is the best resource we’ve seen for researching the park that runs the “Crest of the Blue Ridge.”  Built by  The University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with help from several groups, the site is packed full of images and information. There are even photos of Alleghany we bet you’ve never seen! The title is appropriate as it’s easy to lose yourself in this virtual time machine.

We’re adding a permanent link to the AHGS site so you can easily visit (and return) to the archive.

Image above © Copyright 2010, The University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All rights reserved.

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Whittle & Stitch – Folk Art in the Blue Ridge

The first exhibit for 2013 is called Whittle & Stitch: Folk Art in the Blue Ridge.
The exhibit is sort of a departure from the norm as it includes contemporary items from local craftsmen as well as traditional handcrafts, including quilting, embroidery, woodworking and more.
There are already several items on display, but we always want to include everyone, so if you have something you think would be appropriate, please consider loaning it to the Society for display in the exhibit.
The exhibit opened in February and will last through May. Starting in 2013, exhibits will span 4 months. This will give the museum committee more time between showings and it will allow more time to enjoy their work. The museum is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 10am to 5pm, across from the courthouse. Stop by and see the display!

Rustic, split-wood Cabin by John & Devin Ulery of Designs In Wood in Sparta, on loan from Wilma Foster.

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The Marines Have Landed at Alleghany Memories!

Alleghany Community Television is airing a new episode of our award-winning series, Alleghany Memories, this month, featuring an interview with Bobby Irwin, Vietnam-era Marine combat photographer and videographer. The current program (and three other, upcoming episodes) was produced in conjunction with the Walter Frank Osborne, Jr. Deatachment 1298 Marine Corps League here in Sparta.

The episode is hosted by current MCL Commandant, John Irwin. Subsequent episodes will feature interviews of J.T. Pardue, Bill Sebastian and Charles Pugh- all Alleghanians and members of the local detachment.

A short slide show of Mr. Irwin’s photography airs at the end of the program. Along with being broadcast (to 6276 homes as of this posting!) on Alleghany Community Television, the episode and others are also available for free, immediate viewing, online, at, Alleghany Community Television’s new streaming page. 

AHGS board member, Jeff Halsey-  ”Every show we produce gets a little bit better and this one is arguably, the best, yet. Mr. Irwin’s awesome images reinforce his already interesting account of the time he spent in Vietnam.”

One of Mr. Irwin’s incredible photos from his time in Vietnam. ©2012 Bobby Irwin

And we’re not finished. The next three interviews with World War II Marine veterans have been taped and are now in production. After those air, we will present a program that features Jeanette Anders, from Ennice, NC. Mrs. Anders talks about her life, growing up on a dairy that is still run by her family.

Alleghany Memories won a Paul Green Multimedia Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians, last year, for the premier episode that featured Pauline Jolly and Mildred Torney who are both former county librarians.

Anyone interested in sponsoring, participating in or being featured in an upcoming episode should contact Reba Evans, Alleghany Memories Chairperson, for information, or click the contact link in the upper-right corner of this page.

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Alleghany Memories Available Online at ACTV.ME

Walter Bell. Photograph by Thelma Davis.

With the new streaming page at Alleghany Community Television, viewers can watch any ACTV program at any time. That means people out of our area (all over the world!) can access Alleghany Memories, our award-winning series of interviews that feature regular folks from right here in Alleghany.

This is a huge boost for ACTV and the Historical Society, as we have several interesting and exciting episodes that will soon be ready for air. We will soon be showing a History of Alleghany CARES (Christians Associated for Relief and Emergency Services). We’ve also been working with the Marine Corps League Walter Frank Osborne, Jr. Detachment 1298 and have shot 4 episodes with local Marines, Bobby Irwin, J.T. Pardue, Bill Sebastian and Charles Pugh. The latest interview was with Jeanette Anders from Ennice about life on her family’s dairy farm.Previous shows have featured Pauline Jolly and Mildred Torney, Pauline Meals, Thelma Davis and Walter Bell, Alleghany’s only POW in the Pacific in World War II.If you’d like to sponsor a video, or for more information, contact Committee Chairperson, Reba Evans, at 336-372-4866.

The special short videos being produced by Imaging Specialists, A Trip to the Museum, will also be available for streaming at the new webpage.


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Local Artist Lends Talents to Benefit Alleghany Historical Museum

Jessie Simpson at work in her studio.

Local Potter, Jessie Simpson, owner of Pottery By Jes, is partnering with the Alleghany Historical Museum for a great, new fundraising project. The Museum is now selling vintage style 16-ouncem mugs, specially designed and handcrafted by Jessie in her studio at New Hope, North Carolina. The mugs- perfect for warm, mountain-morning, beverages- were commissioned by Alleghany Historical – Genealogical Society for the purpose of raising funds for upkeep and maintenance of the Museum.

Jessie, already an accomplished artist and photographer, studied with Rob Mangum at his studio, Mangum Pottery, in Turkey Knob before venturing out on her own, last year. Jessie is an exceptional young woman who embodies the best of Blue Ridge, having decided to build her career here in the mountains.

The new handcrafted mug by Pottery By Jes available for just $18 ($19.22 with tax) at the Sparta Store. Proceeds go to benefit the Alleghany Historical Museum.

The mugs feature a rich dark brown, chocolaty glaze over a lighter base that evokes a feeling of traditional crockery. AHGS is proud of Jessie’s final product and couldn’t be more pleased to be working with this gifted artist.

Mugs are available, now, at the Museum, across from the Alleghany Courthouse.

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